'If you can run the OMB, you can run anything.'

Obama Announces His Choice For Health and Human Services Secretary To Succeed Sebelius

U.S. President Barack Obama (2ndL), U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell (L) applaud outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for her service during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House, on April 11, 2014 in Washington, DC.

President Obama has nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. The OMB is something of a proving ground. 

Past budget directors have gone on to become White House chiefs of staff and cabinet secretaries. 

"It isn't such a big agency, but the subject matter covers everything that the government does," says Alice Rivlin, who led the OMB when Bill Clinton was president. "If you can run the OMB," she adds, "you can run anything."

And it seems to be true, given the resumes of recent OMB directors:

Jacob LewDirector, OMB (twice) then White House Chief of Staff then Secretary of the Treasury

Rob PortmanDirector, OMB then U.S. Senator

Joshua BoltenDirector, OMB then White House Chief of Staff

Mitch DanielsDirector, OMB then Governor of Indiana then president of Purdue University

Alice RivlinDirector, OMB then Federal Reserve vice chair

Leon PanettaDirector, OMB then White House Chief of Staff then CIA Director then Secretary of Defense

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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